Training Camp Observations 8-4, Full Pads
With the way these bleacher seats wreck my posterior, am I supposed to take them out to dinner?
The offense steps up
After a few sluggish days to start camp, the offensive unit really picked things up Thursday night. It looked like the Packers tried to get the offense on track by having a lot of seven-on-seven drills, which basically let the receivers run around until they got open. The effect of developing a rhythm in those drills carried over to the full team drills where the offense had much better success. You know it’s a good night when Graham Harrell hits Chastin West in stride with a 50-yard bomb.
Burnett to start?
The Packers may just want to rotate Morgan Burnett in with the first-team defense or it could be a move to start him for good. Tonight the Packers put Burnett in with the first team in just about every drill and in every full-team defense. How did Burnett respond? He played tight coverage on every play I recall and was able to step up in run support. In fact, he was in man coverage with Jermichael Finley for one play and shut him down, knocking the pass away before Finley had a chance to make the catch. There was another play where Burnett came from centerfield and almost made a play on an Aaron Rodgers throw to Donald Driver on the sideline.
Stars looking like stars
I haven’t mentioned some of our big-name guys like Greg Jennings and Tramon Williams yet, but rest assured, they are playing like the stars we expect them to be. Jennings runs some of the best routes in the league and seems indefensible coming out of the slot. Williams is hardly noticed at camp because he’s been locking down every receiver he’s been against and hasn’t been thrown at much since grabbing two interceptions on Sunday. Even though Woodson creates more turnovers, Williams is clearly the Packers best cover corner. Jordy Nelson also looks primed to carry on the success he had in the Super Bowl. He’s been catching just about everything thrown his way.
Odds and ends
The star of the night might have been undrafted rookie wide receiver Diondre Borel. He made a bunch of big-time catches, including a beautiful one-hander. Shaky Smithson also made a case for himself by snagging a couple long balls and making a diving catch. Before practice, Shaky showed off his skills by catching punts from the jugs machine and keeping the first four balls. He failed to hold onto the fifth ball. It reminded me a bit of the famous picture of Don Hutson holding onto seven or eight balls at once. Mike Neal saw more action in full team drills, but was handled easily by Pro Bowler Chad Clifton. The Packers free agents were back in action, though Spencer Havner and Brett Swain were used more than James Jones and John Kuhn. The starting outside linebacker tonight was Erik Walden. D.J. Smith put a huge hit on Alex Green in a goal-line situation. James Starks seemed to be featured much more than Ryan Grant and had a huge play running right through Nick Collins. To finish I’ll give my obligatory impression of Randall Cobb — he was still amazing.
I’m loving all of the feedback from you guys. The next practice I’m able to attend will be Monday night. I could give my impressions of the Packers’ Family Night scrimmage if you were interested or unable to watch.